As a former executive of a leading direct marketing financial services company and now chairman of Coopers & Lybrand's National Banking Industry Group, I am often asked by clients, "What does it really take to be a consistent, top performing retail bank?" By top performing they mean the very best.

The most successful companies go all out and attack their markets in a style that not only creates a "winners" culture in their organization, but also places competition in a constant defensive, catch-up mode. How? Their most advantageous weapon is their ability to choose their customers. Unfortunately, most banks have positioned themselves so the majority of customers choose them, not the other way around. By selecting customers, winners can reasonably predict performance and concentrate acquisition and delivery resources at the best potential customers for each product.

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